Sexual functioning of female eating‐disordered patients

Bruce S. Rothschild, Peter J. Fagan, Camay Woodall, Arnold E. Andersen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Many theories about relating eating disorders with sexual development and experience have been proposed. The authors employed a normed psychometric instrument, the Derogatis Sexual Functioning Inventory (DSFI), to study empirically sexual characteristics of subtypes of eating‐disordered patients. Forty‐four female inpatients were divided into three subcategories; restricting anorexics (AR), bulimic anorexics (AB), and subjects exhibiting bulimia nervosa (BN). Starved anorexics were first allowed to attain their goal weight range before participating in the study. The three groups did not differ demographically. Comparing the eating‐disordered group as a whole to the DSFI norms showed these patients to have quite poor sexual functioning and satisfaction. The “Sexual Functioning Index” representing the global DSFI score put these patients below the first percentile when compared to the normative sample. Nine out of the ten scales of the DSFI failed to show a significant difference between patient subgroups. Only the “fantasy” scale distinguished the AR subgroup with its paucity of sexual fantasy from the BN subgroup who were in the average range, with AB in between. These results are somewhat contrary to other studies comparing outpatient bulimics and anorexics and suggest that patients with eating disorders severe enough to warrant hospitalization represent a more homogenous group regarding their psychosexual characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)389-394
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Eating Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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